Many optometrists and opticians are considering an ecommerce option for their optical dispensary. Usually, this is a good venture if your patients are tech-savvy, young, or you have a high amount of competition in your area. However, actually implementing an ecommerce platform through your practice's website takes a healthy budget, spare time, and true motivation.
Now more than ever, practices want to beat out their online retail competition without having to expand their physical footprint or inventory. In this post, we'll go over why you'd want to add an online shopping option and how to get started.
Ecommerce in Eyecare
First, research different ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, or Weebly. Also, make sure you're using VisionWeb's ordering platform and the CLX system to fulfill orders. Compare their contracts or monthly fees, see how much support is offered with each package, and have a rough idea of how many products you'd ideally like to add to the platform. This might mean you'll have to conduct an inventory audit of your frames and contact lenses beforehand. Make sure that your opticians and front desk are involved, especially if any of your team has worked with an ecommerce platform before.
Then, it's time to line up your competition. Take notes from other eye products' websites, such as Warby Parker and Hubble, to see what you like about them and what you can replicate for your customers. You also might know other optometry practices that have successfully delved into ecommerce, take hints from their websites too.
If the platform you ended up choosing doesn't include a developer who will integrate the tool with your website, that is something you'll need to hire a freelancer to accomplish. We recommend setting aside at least 2 months for implementation, quality assurance testing, and any cushion for unprecedented setbacks.
Also, have a brainstorming session with your entire team where you outline why patients currently buy from your dispensary. If some of the reasons are grounded in the physical presence, such as excellent customer service or the ability to try on frames, try to translate those into the digital experience. You can include a tool that allows patients to upload a selfie and imagine what the glasses would look like on them or include videos of your team wearing each frame in bright lighting. As for customer service, implementing a chat bot could be helpful or try to include as much information about the frames materials and style in the description.
After your platform is up and running and you've publicized it to your patients in all your texts, emails, and physical practice marketing material, it's time to measure. You'll want to know whether you investment is worthwhile, so start by created financial reports to see how many sales you'd need to make every month to break-even on the startup costs of the system. Then, watch the trends of sales as time goes on. If you're still losing money or putting a disproportionate amount of time into ecommerce after 6 months, it could be time for re-evaluation.
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